With hopes of a thaw on the horizon, millions of Americans across the south-central U.S. were grappling with the aftermath of the deadly winter blast Saturday.
Power was slowly returning to residents impacted by the storm, but many were still without clean drinking water. More than 275,000 people across seven states were without power Saturday morning, including more than 80,000 in Texas – down from 4 million earlier in the week, according to PowerOutage.us.
Over 15.1 million people in Texas – more than half the state’s population – across 189 counties had disruptions in their water service early Saturday, leading local agencies to issue boil water advisories, Gary Rasp, a spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality told USA TODAY.
Experts are warning that people of color and low-income communities who were disproportionately affected by blackouts and burst pipes could now face the hardest journey to recovery.
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Biden approves major disaster declaration in Texas
President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration in Texas Saturday and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts. The assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and more.
Biden said Friday he plans to visit Texas next week but will only go when he determines his presence won’t be a “burden.”
“The answer is yes,” Biden said of a visit to Texas, adding his plan originally was to go in the middle of next week. “But I don’t want to be a burden. When the president lands in a city in America it has a long tail.”
Last week, Biden approved states of emergency in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
More than 3,000 daily record cold temperatures last week
Last week saw some of the worst winter weather conditions in decades, if not on record, the National Weather Service said Friday, and the conditions were blamed for the deaths of more than 57 people.
More than 3,000 daily record cold temperatures were reported from February 12-17, and 79 of those records were all-time cold records, the NWS said Friday, predicting that much of the U.S. was expected to see subfreezing temperatures for several days to come.
‘Warmth is on the way’
But “warmth is on the way,” the National Weather Service said Friday. “It may even feel tropical by early next week,” the service said.
AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said a “major thaw is forecast for the recently winter-bombarded south-central United States.”
“Even though temperature swings won’t be as dramatic in the Midwest and East, AccuWeather meteorologists say the extreme winter weather of late should ease up in intensity into the end of February,” Sosnowski said.